‘The city lost one of its great daughters.’ Search continues for suspects in Bronzeville hit-and-run that killed journalist, activist

Hannah Hayes, 62 was killed in the crash 4800 block of South Drexel Boulevard. Police released images of the suspects Friday.

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Hannah Hayes

Hannah Hayes

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Hannah Hayes was a fierce advocate for public education and worked for decades to make Chicago a better place for everyone, especially young people, her husband recalls.

“She was everywhere, just open and ready,” Jesse Sinaiko said. “She was a marvelous teacher, she cared about Chicago tremendously.”

On July 11, Hayes was driving on 49th Street when the driver of a silver 2012 Lexus sped through a stop sign at Drexel Boulevard and slammed into her car. Hayes suffered multiple injuries and was pronounced dead at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Images released by police of suspects in a fatal hit-and-run on July 11, 2022.

Images released by police of suspects in a fatal hit-and-run on July 11, 2022.

Chicago police

The people in the Lexus ran from the scene. Days later, police released images of two suspects wanted in connection with the hit-and-run.

Sinaiko said he hopes release of the images will spur someone to tip investigators.

“I hope that this will help somebody get a conscience, somebody who might know and drop a dime, or maybe one of the kids will,” he said. “I’m not mister vicious revenge guy, I know stuff is pretty bad out there for a lot of young people.

“I would just ask them why they thought blowing past stop signs was fun when the net result was that they walked away from an accident that destroyed a life and possibly ruined two other lives,” he said.

Hayes’ death is a huge loss for the city, Sinaiko said, describing his wife as “not just a general, but a soldier” who didn’t want and didn’t seek recognition for the many things she did to help people in Chicago.

Hayes had been an activist and advocate for public education for many years, Sinaiko said. She was a journalist with pieces published in the Sun-Times, Smithsonian Air and Space, the Journal of the AMA and Christian Science Monitor, among others.

Hayes recently worked at City Bureau in Chicago as the leader and mentor of a team of young reporters tackling Local School Council elections. In addition to her work as a journalist, Hayes taught kindergarten at St. Pius V Elementary School in Pilsen, and at DeVry University for two decades.

“She cared about journalism, she cared about the truth, about good analysis and about working with young people,” Sinaiko said.

Hayes’ work mostly concentrated on immigration and primary education, and she was a great believer in public education, her husband said. Hayes was on the Local School Council at Reavis Elementary School, and had recently helped turn an empty classroom into a library with donated books.

Hayes also worked at a newspaper in Ireland, where she lived for a time in the 1990s. In her earlier years, she worked as an operative in Harold Washington’s mayoral campaigns and was former 46th Ward Ald. Helen Shiller’s chief of staff, Sinaiko said.

Hayes leaves behind seven siblings, her husband Sinaiko and their son Zach Hayes.

She was a “marvelous mother who had the biggest heart in the world and has positively impacted thousands of people over the years,” Sinaiko said. “The city lost one of its great daughters.”

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